R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If there is one thing that has been instilled and lightly beaten into us growing up in an immigrant family is the hustle and the fact that you may have to work harder to earn the respect due, but it most definitely will be worth it in the long run. While some rhetoric has been to “close our borders” or has been negative towards the influx of immigrants, there is most definitely something to be said about the lessons we learnt growing up in an immigrant family. Read along and explore with us.
What Has Been Instilled In US
Families are all different, but at its core, we all share the drive to be better or improve on what our parents laid the groundwork for. Many go through some very hard times and we can all gather a collection of stories which have helped to make us tune into life’s lessons. Our Mama Bear is no different, we just wanted to “curate” some of the lessons she has taught us along the way, but we know this is only the tip of the iceberg.
1) Work Hard:
If there’s one thing our mom can’t stand, it’s “idleness”, she doesn’t know the word “relax”- someway, somehow, she is always on the move. If you have a job to do, she was always preaching to us to do the best we can and give it our all, no matter the result- if you did your very best then that’s all that matters. Inevitably, most immigrant parents probably have had to have the sort of conversation with their children in order to explain to them, they will always need to work harder than most in order to get ahead. Whether they make the assumption based on our name, the colour of our skin or the way we speak, she has always affirmed not giving them any opportunity to make us feel smaller or lesser than. Pushing and guiding in us, that ultimately first impressions matter, but working hard and doing a good job-is also very important and overall- that alone should shine through. 💪🏿
2) Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy. If this wasn’t something that was always reiterated to us, I don’t know what is. No matter the situation or how hard and overwhelming it may feel, what we have always learnt is that things get easier when you’re honest, be it with yourself or with others. Doing an honest job, as an employee or otherwise is of the utmost importance, because it leaves an impression of what people expect of you- and honesty should always be top of that list.
3) Embrace your culture
We may not always engage in the lavish dancing and dress-up for carnival, but we have found culture in the types of foods that our mother grew up with. We have previously mentioned this in another blog post, that our mother has always found joy in cooking various foods from the islands and the simple notion of cooking together as a family brings us closer together. Watching and forcibly taking part in making bread or dumplings, not only gives us insight on a tradition we look forward to passing down to our children, but it is always filled with stories. Nothing gets our mom’s memory juices flowing like cooking in the kitchen! At the end of the day, culture means different things to different people and though we don’t sound it and we don’t necessarily ooze the West Indies, we are most definitely proud to have come from the Spice Isle 🇬🇩.
4) Dress The Part
If you know anything about Black folks, especially Black folks within the church community, then you KNOW you show up to church turnt. Mama Bear has never been shy of looking and dressing good, because when you feel good in what you’re wearing- you carry that confidence into what you’re doing. She is always commenting about how making your presence and the way you carry yourself to do the talking. It’s not about being judged for what you wear, but about how differently you are or can be treated if you dress to a specific stereotype. Be yourself, but make sure your outfit reflects that and above all else, dress to impress. Maybe that’s why we both love fashion so much! Dress for the position you want to fill!!
5) Be The Change
Our mother has always encouraged us to be independent and if there was something that did not sit well with us in our lives, rather than sit and stew over it (her words), she always said we should do something about it. Her taking a risk in her early twenties, ushering two young children from a small island all the way to a foreign country, where she knew no one. Taking that leap of faith, is what completely changed the trajectory of our lives, if she wasn’t willing to take that risk, there is no measure for where we would be. She also took the leap and left an abusive relationship with 4 kids in tow, so when she tells you that no issue is too big for you and that you WILL get through it- let me tell you, you believe her. And we do!
Having a path for your life and a mantra, or a set of “rules” that you would like to aspire to, its all great and dandy, but that is not life. We need to learn to adapt and see what works best for us individually, but it’s always great when you get to see things from someone else’s perspective. Share with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, the various words of encouragement that people in your life have told you, that have stuck with you.